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SPECIAL REPORT

‘Fear has divided us’: The Bolivians dreading wrath of Morales supporters

The charred remains of a children's playroom in La Paz's Achumani neighbourhood after it was looted and torched.
The charred remains of a children's playroom in La Paz's Achumani neighbourhood after it was looted and torched. FRANCE 24 screen grab

The political crisis that resulted in the ouster of Bolivia’s Evo Morales has reopened old fault lines in the country. FRANCE 24 reports from a middle class district of La Paz, where residents live in fear of a violent backlash by supporters of the deposed president.

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On the night of November 10, Franco Albarracin's family home in the affluent neighbourhood of Achumani was attacked by an angry mob of several hundred. The family escaped by scaling the walls, just moments before their home was looted and burned.

Albarracin’s father is a rector at a public university, whose students had demanded the resignation of Evo Morales following last month’s disputed election.

“I think the aim of the attack was to intimidate people, and it worked,” he told FRANCE 24.

When Evo Morales was forced out by the military, his furious supporters marched out of their working-class neighbourhoods, calling for his reinstatement. Meanwhile, residents in the more affluent south of La Paz have been preparing to defend themselves, starting night patrols and even arming themselves with rocks.

“We set up an alert system, it's like a panic button that can be triggered by any neighbour from their phone if they spot anything unusual,” said Juan Carlos Vacaflor, a resident of Achumani.

The crisis has reopened deep divides in Bolivian society, pitting the mainly indigenous and rural working class, which is supportive of the former president, against the mainly white and mixed-race middle class that yearned for change.

Under Morales, these disparate groups had learnt to live together. But the recent clashes have called into question the country's stability.

“In La Paz, we all live together, but fear has divided us,” said Achumani resident Jeannine Forguez. “They get told we are going to attack them, which isn't true. And we are told they'll attack us."

Click on the player above to watch the report by Pascale Mariani, Simone Bruno and Camille Nedelec.
 

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